Is it possible to use whose as the possessive form of which?

  • Based on classic films -- whose screenplays were mostly dramatic --
    Bordwell exposed his theory of the hero.

Is that correct?

  • 2
    This is commonly how it's done informally, yes.
    – Robusto
    Jun 16, 2015 at 14:43
  • By the way, it's possessive with four s's.
    – sjsyrek
    Jun 16, 2015 at 14:52
  • I deleted my answer since examples to the contrary were provided. It still feels wrong to me despite the attestations, but I don't want to muddy the waters for the OP. A style guide may provide better guidance than historic examples, though.
    – sjsyrek
    Jun 16, 2015 at 15:01
  • 1
    @Robusto: Come, we're armoured with righteousness; the Peeververein shall not triumph. Jun 16, 2015 at 15:48
  • 1
    So, to partially vindicate myself, I looked up the usage note I knew just had to exist on this point. I guessed the result would be 60-40 or so in favor of you guys, that whose is OK to use to refer to inanimate objects. Turns out I was quite close. In case anyone is interested: ahdictionary.com/word/…
    – sjsyrek
    Jun 16, 2015 at 17:44

2 Answers 2


1 the room the door of which is green

2 the room whose door is green

The first construction is a bit clumsy. The second is shorter and much more practical. That's why the second way is replacing the first.

  • 1
    Do you have any evidence that the second construction is newer than the first/becoming more common than the first?
    – herisson
    Jun 16, 2015 at 21:08
  • That is quite another question. But I admit an interesting one. But I never had the idea to look into the historical side of this matter nor did I study the frequency of the two constructions today. But I take it for granted that the shorter one is more common.
    – rogermue
    Jun 16, 2015 at 21:19
  • It seemed to be implied in your answer ("the second way is replacing the first") so if you don't know, you might want to reword that part.
    – herisson
    Jun 16, 2015 at 21:21
  • As I seldom read the first constructon, but occasionally find the second I think I may use the formulation that I chose. By the way, what I write here is no professoral thesis. And I find you can formulate as carefully as you want you get a shot from some corner.
    – rogermue
    Jun 16, 2015 at 21:27
  • The room with the green door?
    – sjsyrek
    Jun 17, 2015 at 6:14

Yes, it is correct. See also http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/whose-for-inanimate-objects

According to grammar girl, whose is the only word we have to refer to inanimate antecedents.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.